What happens when you clear browsing data in Chrome

Google Chrome saves various forms of data on local storage when you visit websites, just like other browsers. This helps to provide a better browsing experience, both in terms of performance and convenience. However, there may be times when you want to clear your browsing data in Chrome.


Clear Featured Chrome Browsing Data

Often times, removing browsing data, such as cached images and files, resolves persistent issues on websites. Deleting data types such as cookies can also improve privacy.

Let’s take an in-depth look at what your Chrome browsing data is, and then see what happens after you erase it.

What counts as browsing data in Chrome

The breakdown of Chrome’s browsing data is as follows:

Navigation history: Registration of websites that you have visited in the past.

Download history: A list of downloaded files.

Cookies and other site data—Small files that help sites remember login sessions and user preferences.

Cached images and files: Cached files that help Chrome load sites faster on subsequent visits.

Passwords and other login data: Passwords that you save in Chrome’s built-in password manager.

Autofill form data: Saved form data, addresses and credit card information.

Site settings—Site permissions (such as camera, microphone, and download permissions).

Hosted Application Data: Local data saved offline by Chrome Web Store apps.

Note: The mobile version of Chrome does not include the “Download History” and “Hosted App Data” categories.

What happens when you clear browsing data

Whenever you choose to delete some form of browsing data in Chrome, here’s what happens:

Navigation history

Clears history logs from the History tab of Chrome (Chrome menu> History). Also prevents the browser from showing previously visited sites as suggestions in the Omnibox Chrome. Helps maintain privacy in shared device scenarios.

Download history

Delete the download logs from the Downloads tab (Chrome menu> Downloads). However, does not delete downloaded files. Helps maintain privacy in shared device scenarios.

Cookies and other site data

Requires you to log in to websites again. Sites can also lose your preferences. Helps clear tracking cookies and prevent sites from recognizing you on subsequent visits. You may also end up freeing up disk space (around 500 megabytes in most cases).

Clear Chrome 3 browsing data

Clear Chrome 3 browsing data

Note: Despite the deletion of cookies, websites may use other forms of tracking such as IP addresses or browser fingerprints to track you.

Cached images and files

Helps troubleshoot issues caused by stale cached data. Some websites may load slowly after a short time because Chrome needs to redownload all data related to the site.

You can also delete cached images and files for a single site.

Passwords and other login data

Removes passwords you’ve saved in Chrome’s built-in password manager. Before deleting them, be sure to export your passwords to a CSV file or import them into another browser or password manager.

Clear Chrome 4 browsing data

Clear Chrome 4 browsing data

Autofill form data

Removes form data, addresses, and credit card information. Does not delete payment information saved in Google Pay.

Content settings

Resets site permissions to their default values. You then need to reconfigure any camera, microphone, or download permissions for the sites.

Hosted application data

Apps from the Chrome Web Store will load slowly shortly after, as they need to download the data locally again.

Note: Chrome lets you choose timeframes while clearing your browsing data (last hour, last 24 hours, etc.), so you don’t necessarily have to delete all the information related to a particular category of data.

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Chrome Syncs plays a factor

If you’ve turned on Chrome sync, deleting some forms of data will cause the browser to delete other devices as well. This specifically affects passwords, autofill data, and browsing history data categories.

If you don’t want this to happen, turn off Chrome sync for those particular types of data before deleting your data.

Clear Chrome 1 browsing data

Clear Chrome 1 browsing data

To manage Chrome Sync, go to Settings> Sync and Google services> Manage what you sync. To prevent Chrome Sync from deleting your browsing history on all devices, for example, turn off the switch next to History.

How to clear browsing data in Chrome

To clear your browsing data from Chrome, go to Settings> Privacy> Clear browsing data. Switch to the Advanced tab to reveal all forms of data.

Clear Chrome 2 browsing data

Clear Chrome 2 browsing data

Select the categories of data you want to delete, choose a duration (last hour, 24 hours, every hour, etc.), and click Clear data.

Don’t overdo it

Deleting your browsing data may adversely affect your browsing experience in Chrome. Therefore, don’t make it a habit unless you have some site-related issues or privacy concerns.

Point: Chrome’s Incognito Mode helps you surf privately and prevents your browsing data from staying locally.

Additionally, you should exercise caution when deleting browsing data. Accidentally deleting your passwords or autofill (when all you wanted to do was clear cached files and pictures) could put your day at risk.

Then:

Clearing your browsing data will also not delete any activity saved to your Google Account. See the following article for how to remove it.

Last updated August 24, 2020

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